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Burlington planning board turns thumbs-down to high density development on north side of city

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Burlington’s planning board was almost as unhappy with a developer’s plans for a high-density development off Lakeside Avenue on the northern side of the city as were neighbors of the proposed development, who turned out to voice their opposition Monday night.

The city’s planning and zoning commission was hearing a request to change the zoning on four parcels of land, totaling 68 acres, along Lakeside Avenue.

Developers Ray Covington and James Kirkpatrick had submitted a rezoning request to allow high-density development under a “limited use” designation that the city now allows.

Kirkpatrick, who serves as vice chairman of the planning board, immediately asked to step down from hearing the first item on the commission’s agenda that night because of the conflict of interest from his financial interest in the proposal, leaving the other six members to hear the particulars of the proposed rezoning.

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Most of the description was left to Ryan Moffitt, a Burlington attorney representing the developers, although Covington also weighed in to provide some details.

Moffitt tried to portray the proposal as a logical transition in the zoning for the area.  “This part of the city is moving toward

Burlington attorney Ryan Moffitt (at the podium) with developer Ray Covington (blue shirt) behind.

development,” he explained.  He also outlined that the developers had eliminated multi-family housing from their proposal.

Instead, the preliminary layout showed 206 single-family homes and 32 townhouses, however, it was emphasized that the layouts and the preliminary numbers would not be binding.

In response to a question from planning board member Charlie Beasley, Covington estimated that the price point for the single-family homes would be in the $250,000 to $350,000/$375,000 range.

Board member John Black pressed as to why the developers had not sought medium, rather than high, density zoning for their project.  Moffit said that “economies of scale” and other “efficiencies,” including the “demand” for higher-density projects had influenced their decision.

Black described that nearby residential zoning as largely medium density, suggesting that the high density proposal was not consistent with what’s in the neighborhood now.

Board chairman Richard Parker was also uncomfortable with the inexact number of lots planned for the 68 acres.  Parker questioned “whether the developer is ready” to submit the rezoning request that was before the board.

[Story continues before Burlington map of the four parcels requested for rezoning.]

Several neighbors from the adjoining Brassfield Meadows subdivision spoke to the planning board members, urging a rejection of the rezoning request.

Alicia Brown

Alicia Brown said she was told the land behind her home “wouldn’t be developed,” but now she faces the prospect of 206 single-family homes plus 32 townhouses.

Most of the concerns expressed to the planning board came from residents in the Brassfield Meadows subdivision, some of whose lots back to the proposed development.

After the conclusion of residents’ comments and planning board discussion, planning board alternate Ethan Raynor motioned for approval of the rezoning request.  But no one seconded the motion.

Black then made a motion to deny the request, which was adopted 5-1.  Black, Beasley, chairman Parker, and planning board members Joan Zec Nelson and Lee Roane voted in favor of the denial.  Raynor was opposed.

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